What are the steps for a man going through seminary?

By Fr. Adam Bradley | Special To The Compass | May 10, 2022

Editor’s note: Once a seminarian is ordained as a deacon, for a year or so before being ordained to the priesthood, he can wear a Roman collar.


What are the steps in going through seminary? I know some men are in college, some in seminary and some already wear priest’s collars. I looked at the vocations website for the diocese, but I am still not clear. I see terms like Pre-theology, Theology III, College IV and “Kairos Men.” How does it all work? — De Pere


It is a question that has been asked by many people: “What steps does a young man have to go through in order to become a priest?” The answer is slightly different, depending on what diocese or religious community a man decides to enter.

In most dioceses throughout the country, the process is simple. There are two paths a man can take, depending on if he has an undergraduate degree or not.

If he does not have a college degree, he goes to college seminary until he earns his undergraduate degree. Following college seminary, he will go to four years of theology or major seminary before being ordained to the priesthood. This process takes anywhere from six to eight years to complete, depending on undergraduate studies. 

If a man does have his college degree, he then enters a two-year pre-theology program followed by four years of theology before he is eligible for priestly ordination. This process takes six years to complete. 

In the Diocese of Green Bay, we follow these two paths except for one notable difference. That difference is the addition of what is called a “propaedeutic” or “pre-studies year.” This year, “the Kairos Year,” occurs before the man enters formal seminary studies.

The Kairos Year is a yearlong formation opportunity dedicated to helping men who feel called and desire to serve Jesus Christ as a priest as they begin their formation to the priesthood. The focus of the Kairos Year is to help them grow in knowledge of the faith and of themselves by providing a foundation in sacred Scripture, Catholic Church teaching, work with the poor, a deepening relationship with the Trinity through prayer, and help with understanding what it means to live out the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the Diocese of Green Bay. The year is aimed at helping discerners become the men that God is calling them to be so that they can be the holy priests our diocese needs. 

With this said, the simple answer is this: All those who want to discern the priesthood in the Diocese of Green Bay will participate in the Kairos Year. If they do not have a college degree, they will then go to college seminary. If they do have a college degree, they will then go into pre-theology at a seminary. After that, the men will go to four years of theology school before seeking ordination to the priesthood. 

Fr. Adam Bradley is director of the Kairos Year for the Vocation office of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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